How To Get A Great Kick Drum Sound

There are two basic ways to get a great kick drum sound for recording:

1. The quick and easy way.

2. The slightly harder and more expensive way.

I’ll assume that you have a great drummer lined up because tone and even signal levels on each hit has as much to do with the player as the gear it’s played through.

Hopefully you also have a decent quality bass drum. Most of the time you’ll want to pud a blanket or some sort of padding inside the drum. You don’t want to muffle it too much or eliminate all resonance, you just want to experiment until your drummer hits the drum and you get a deep, solid punchy thud. If it sounds like someone knocking on a door try tuning the head to get a deeper sound, if possible, note that some kick drums simply don’t sound that good. It might help to place the kit in the corner of a room, facing toward the room’s center.

Once you have the drum sounding the way you want it, a microphone designed to record those low frequencies is essential. We use a Shure PG52. Place it like this:

Shure PG52 micophone in a Gretsch bass drum

Shure PG52 micophone in a Gretsch bass drum

Even straight into the board that should give you a reasonably good sounding kick drum track. If you want it to be awesome, run it through a preamp/compressor. We use an Avalon VT 737SP set for bass drum.

If you try all this and you aren’t happy I can guarantee you it’s not the Avalon or the Shure PG52 that’s the problem. It resides in your drummer or in the kick drum. Keep experimenting and eventually you’ll make it happen. If you fail or rather, tire of experimenting Nashville Trax does offer drum tracks played by a studio pro session player as well as vocal tracks, piano tracks, bass guitar, you name it you can add to your project. Visit the link and check the menu under the word “MORE” in the upper right corner. b.e. watson